Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chutzpah (n): See under "Julia Gorin"

You know, it's usually the case when a movie or an episode of a TV show comes out, and the bad guy comes from country "X", or belongs to group "Y", that other people coming from that country and/or belonging to that group will lodge complaints against the studio or network presenting said movie or TV show episode. However, their complaint usually is they're afraid that the presentation might give the general public that all people from "X" or who are "Y" are just like the bad guy was. Sometimes the complaint is valid, sometimes it's a case of overreacting on the part of the offended group.

However, when a recent episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent aired an episode which featured a bad guy who was a Serb, guess what our "favorite" blogger from the land of tight slots and chintzy entertainment complained about? That it might give the impression that all Serbs are like that? Noooooo....she complained that it gave the impression that ANY Serbs could be like that!

...."“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” decides it would be timely to re-broadcast an episode in which a Serb — having raped Muslim women in Bosnia — is now raping American women. This is the sort of thing I’ve described in the past as Hollywood’s/TV Land’s wishful thinking, which they try to turn into reality, at least on-screen: Unable to deal with reality as it is, they create an alternate reality in the movies and on TV."
She then goes on to try and bolster her argument by referring to a piece she wrote four years ago for FrontPageMag, where she complained about Hollywood liberals trying to create a world of their own liking through their movies and TV shows, in opposition to what the "real" (or at least real in her opinion) world is, before returning to the subject at hand. She then goes on to say

When one lives in a world of make-believe, nothing has to make any sense, and that’s why it’s called La-La Land. With that in mind, sharp viewers seeing programs and movies irrelevantly still trying to demonize Serbs may be able to discern the real message: if this is what TV is showing us, it probably means that in the real world, the opposite is true and this is just wishful thinking: the writers wish they lived in a world where what they had to worry about were Serbs.

Notice what she says here: An episode of a TV show where a Serb is depicted as having raped women during the Bosnian conflict and now is repeating the same behavior here is "wishful thinking, which they try to turn into reality", and that "if this is what TV is showing us, it probably means that in the real world, the opposite is true and this is just wishful thinking: the writers wish they lived in a world where what they had to worry about were Serbs." In other words, a Serb committing rapes is "wishful thinking", and the opposite of the situation as it exists in the "real" world, apparently meaning that at least according to "La Julia", in the "real" world Serbian men don't (or even aren't capable of) commit rapes-at all, ever. Now to the best of my knowledge, rape (or sexual assault, to use the more technical term) is unfortunately something that exists in most cultures. Now maybe the Serbian culture is different. Maybe that deal Tsar Lazar did with God (or at least according to the Serbian National(Social)ists he did, since of course otherwise the Serbs would have never lost the battle of Kosovo Polje to begin with!) for the "Heavenly Kingdom" had as part and parcel of it the magical preventing of the Serbs from ever committing any kind of sin ever again. Or maybe, more likely, it's just La Julia expressing some of her own "wishful thinking" in addition to her already famous "chutzpah" (and not in the good sense in either case).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Um, er, Julia? I don't think you should quit the day job just yet, sweetie....

As some of you know, our little friend La Julia is, among other things, a stand-up comedian. Today she posted on her blog this little "example" (reproduced below) of her sense of humor. Um, Julia? If you're wondering why you still haven't hit "The Big Time" yet, well, let me clue you in: It has nothing to do with "The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy" (or Albanian Conspiracy, or Islamofascist Conspiracy....), OK?

***********************************************************

Today marked the first of four days of face-to-face negotiations between a Serbian delegation and a Kosovo-Albanian delegation in New York, for a final one-sided attempt at compromise regarding Kosovo’s status. The meeting ended abruptly when the Albanian delegation opened fire on the Serbian delegation, killing everyone. The U.S. and EU condemned the resulting Serbian intransigence, pointing to the massacre as proof that independence for Kosovo is the only rational solution. President Bush announced that the slaughter of the Serbian delegation has made it necessary to once again bomb Serbia. On its way out, the Albanian delegation asked for Madeleine Albright to come in and clean up the place.

The international community hailed the meeting as a success.




Thursday, September 27, 2007

Serb National(Social)ist paramilitary thugs threaten UNMIK and NATO

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a few days, folks-I've had major schedule changes at work, which when you're 46, takes a little longer time to adjust to than it did at 26 or even 36. Anyway, I'll be posting some major stuff this weekend, if all works out like it's supposed to, so keep a look out!

In the meantime, feast your eyes on this little blurb from B92 which Nick from over on the shoqni.com web boards gave a "heads up" about. Gotta hand to those Serb National(Social)ists; they always play fair and by the rules, and of course always obey the law, just like good, Godly Christian folk are supposed to....

**************************************
Report: Serb group threatens NATO, UN in Kosovo
27 September 2007 | 16:24 | Source: AP
PRIŠTINA -- A Serb paramilitary group has threatened to target UN and NATO in Kosovo, the AP reported.

The so-called Guard of Czar Lazar, outlawed by UNMIK, has threatened to target international administration and peacekeepers in the province, declaring them "terrorists and occupiers," according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.

The letter was reportedly e-mailed to the UN and NATO.

The group, named after a medieval Serb leader who fought the Ottoman Turks in Kosovo in 1389, allegedly said the UN and NATO would face "plenty of surprises," should they prevent a protest that the group has called for Oct. 14 in Kosovo's Serb dominated north.

The militiamen said they would also "intervene in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More proof of just what a bunch of uncouth barbarians those Albanians really are!

http://www.tiranafilmfest.com/

La Julia finally gets it right for a change! (well, kinda-sorta....)

The other day, while doing my usual scan of all the different sites and blogs the "Haters" have out there, I made my customary visit to La Julia's blog. Not surprisingly, she had yet another post featuring alleged incidents of Albanian-committed crimes in Kosova. Nothing new there, of course. What WAS different was this, near the end of the post:

To put some of this Serb-targeting into perspective, one must consider that much of the robberies and burglaries, rather than being ethnically motivated, are done more out of opportunism. Albanians are practical people, so why would an Albanian violate another Albanian when he’d risk being killed? Violating Serbs, on the other hand, is a no-risk proposition. They’ve been disarmed, aren’t trigger-happy to begin with, and committing a crime against a fellow Albanian could bring a blood feud upon your family for the next two centuries.

(Note: Albanian-on-Albanian crime is more ubiquitous than Albanian-on-Serb crime, just by virtue of there being a larger population pool for it. But if a Serb is near by, you’d be a fool not to try there first.)

*****************************************
(Note: emphasis above is mine.)

Now as per normal, she makes the usual snarky innuendos, inferences, and "left-handed compliments" which, when summed up, say that Albanians are all (among other things) a bunch of violent criminals, corrupt, etc. And beyond that, there's the utter bull-plop contained in statements like that Serb civilians in Kosova have all been disarmed (to say nothing of the even more ridiculous statement that infers that they are by nature "not trigger-happy to begin with"), or that an Albanian attacking or robbing another Albanian risks "hakmarrje". (Like much of what La Julia says, it's half-true: It is possible, but the odds of it happening are probably a million to one if not higher against it, since, as she-surprise! surprise!-neglects to point out only a very small percentage of the Albanian people, either in the Balkans or elsewhere, still engage in such behavior. And that's not to mention the fact that she goes on to contradict herself about Albanian-on-Albanian violence and crime in that parenthetical comment at the end of the post.)

But notice something different? She actually, finally admits this time what I, most Albanians, and UNMIK/KFOR themselves basically have been saying all along: That what crimes there are in Kosova that are committed against Serbs are for the most part NOT likely to be "hate crimes", i.e. ethnically, racially, or religion motivated crimes. They are rather, like most crimes, born of opportunity. If you'll notice, many of such crimes as she cites in her blog take place in tiny villages or out of the way farmsteads. In other words, they are perfect easy pickings for anyone wanting to rip-off money and/or goods. And while I'm no mind reader, I've studied enough about crime and criminals on my own (as well as I have a pretty decent sense of "common sense") to know that most likely when these folks go off to do a "job", probably the last thing that enters into their mind is "Hey, let's go hit that place over there-a bunch of Serbs live there, so it should be easy to knock over!" So sincere kudos go out to Julia for finally getting it right for a change about something having to do with Kosova. Well, more like "kinda-sorta getting it right", actually. But hey, it's a start! ;)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

La Julia Sez: "Yer not Only all Terrorists, Yer all Pyros to Boot!"

Well, if Svetlana says something, can our little friend La Julia be far behind in copying her? In her recent post entitled "That's Albantainment" (her original title was "That's Albania! (That's Albantainment!)"), La Julia decides to play the race card once again. She starts off by covering the oddball story that made the wire services a few days ago about the guy in Delvina who decided he was going to set his van on fire if Albania failed to score a goal in a football match against the Netherlands. Of course, whenever she does something like this, she always has an ulterior motive. In this case, it was evidently to prove that not only are ALL Albanians terrorists, but that they're ALL pyros, too. Here's her commentary on the incident:

This reminds me of a point I wanted to make. After almost every new terrorist attack, we are told that in order to fight terrorism, one must remove the “underlying causes of terrorism”. Although the party saying this is usually referring — incorrectly — to either poverty or Jews, what is correct is that there is an underlying cause: pyromania. Instead of fighting a war on terrorists, we need to be treating these people for pyromania.


Hmmm....now let's see here...she mentions (probably half-flippantly, though that is of no matter, since that would mean that she's also being at least half serious) that she considers the root cause of terrorism to be pyromania. Now there are two "people" mentioned in the article, the Albanians and the Dutch. And a single member of only one of those people is depicted as setting something on fire. And of course pyromania is defined as the love of or arousal by setting things afire. So therefore, according to "GorinLogic", Albanians are all pyros, because according to her "....we need to be treating these people (quite obviously the Albanians, from the context of the article) for pyromania". And why do we need to be treating them for pyromania? Well, because again according to La Julia, they're all terrorists! (Instead of fighting a war on terrorists....") Sir Bedevere couldn't have done any better in the logic department....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I guess it doesn't count if you don't consider them human to begin with

While La Julia is probably by far the "Hater" with the highest profile, ounce for ounce, even she cannot match the sheer hatred and hypocrisy of Vancouver (BC) Serbian Orthodox iconographer Svetlana Novko. This person, who appears to be considered among the "Haters" to be one of the epitomes of what it means to be a "Godly Christian", has a blog, wherein she, like most of the rest of us bloggers, puts out into cyberspace what we think, feel, believe, and know (or at least in some cases, it's more like "think we know").

Now one of her early posts dealt with rules for those practicing iconography in the Serbian Orthodox Church. I will reproduce them here:

  1. Before starting the work, make the sign of the cross. Pray in silence and forgive your enemies.
  2. Work with care on every detail of your icon, as if you were working in front of the Lord Himself.
  3. Pray during work in order to strengthen yourself physically and spiritually. Above all, avoid all useless words and keep silence.
  4. Pray in particular to the Saint whose Image you are writing. Guard your mind from distractions, and the Saint will be close to you.
  5. When you have to choose a color, reach out to the Lord inwardly and ask His counsel.
  6. Do not be jealous of your neighbor's work - his success is your success too.
  7. When your icon is finished, thank the Lord for His Mercy that granted you the grace to paint the Holy Images.
  8. Have your icon blessed by putting it in the altar for forty days. Be the first to pray before it, before giving it to others.
  9. Never forget the joy of spreading icons in the world, the joy of the work of icon-writing, the joy of serving the Lord shining through the icons, the joy of being in union with the Saint whose Image you are writing.
Now, those rules seem for the most part very sensible, if you want to create art that puts yourself and others in better touch with the Divine. However, two of those rules are of particular relevance here:

1. Before starting the work, make the sign of the cross. Pray in silence and forgive your enemies.

6. Do not be jealous of your neighbor's work - his success is your success too.

I wonder then, before she starts work, how Miss Novko reconciles those rules with things like THIS?:

"But with the Western support rapidly vanishing into thin air, shiptar separatists may as well start packing their suitcases right now.

Part of their problem, IMO, is that they thought it is their doing, their "cleverness" that brought them to the brink of a land-grabbing theft of a century, so they can go on behaving like apes, robbing, stealing, torching, trafficking, killing, destroying, piling up garbage throughout, doing absolutely nothing a decent man would consider work (a Swede asked an excellent question a while ago: How much foreign investment do you really need to grow a cucumber?) and they'll get what they want - that's how charming, irresistible, wonderful they really are and the world has finally acknowledged their marvelousness and will reward it with the chunk of Serbia - for starters."

"A bunch of murderous, dishonest, cowardly terrorists that produce nothing but heroin and sex slaves, might have been useful to the West while it attempted to render Serbia insignificant by dismembering it entirely."

--from comments made by her in the comments section of her POSt "Putin-Wait and See what Happens Next", 18 September, 2007

"....or will they change the current perilous course and find enough moral strength to finally say ‘No’ to the roaches they’ve been nursing all these years?"

--from her blog POSt "serbs ready for all", 30 August, 2007

Hmmm....well, I guess to Svetlana those two rules don't count if you don't consider your enemy to be human to begin with.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sometimes, life makes its own rebuttals....

Another priceless gem from one of my very most favorite POSts of late (to pick apart, that is) from that font of sagacity, honesty, objectivity, and truthfulness (or should that be "truthiness"?) that is La Julia:

(referring once again to Claire Short)

"In the Kosovo war, she’d said that the West must remain “steady” in its determination to defeat Serbia’s “fascist regime” — doing the usual inversion of the anti-fascist Serbs and their fascist enemies from WWII — Albanians, Bosnians and Croats."

Now, submitted for your approval (as the late Rod Serling might put it), and without further comment, this news story that our good friend Dardan gave us a "heads up" about. Well, no further comment, that is, except for to repeat the title of this post: "Sometimes, life makes its own rebuttals...."

http://www.birn.eu.com/en/104/15/4437/

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Serbian Jews Protest Neo-Nazi Rally

18 09 2007 Belgrade _ The association of Serbian Jews has asked the government to ban a neo-Nazi rally in the country's northern regional capital of Novi Sad, fearing a resurgence of the ethnic tensions and nationalism that previously led to the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
The rally, planned by the neo-Nazi Nacionalni Stroj organization, has been scheduled for October 7 under the slogan "Serbian March, a March for Serbian Unity" and advertised on several ultra-nationalist and
right wing websites.

In an open letter posted to Serbia's president Boris Tadic, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Parliamentary speaker Oliver Dulic, the Union of Jewish Communities said that it was "incomprehensible howa group that spreads national, religious and racial hatred, punishable by law, could receive official permission to hold a rally".

The march was originally announced earlier this month on a blog maintained by Nacionalni Stroj's leader Goran Davidovic. In 2006, he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for storming an anti-fascist
panel discussion at the university in Novi Sad, the capital of Serbia's northern Vojvodina province, in 2005.

According to Serbian media reports, Novi Sad police allowed the organizers to march in downtown Novi Sad, which also has sizable Hungarian, Slovak, Czech and Croat communities. Police officials in Novi Sad were not immediately available for comment.

The letter to the top Serbian officials also said that Serbian Jews "vehemently oppose" the staging of a neo-Nazi rally its presence "in the centre of that multicultural city, whose inhabitants were not so long ago victims of the ideas that the group propagates".

Serbian human rights watchdogs and political parties have also condemned the rally.

Biljana Kovacevic Vuco of the Belgrade-based Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights told Balkan Insight that the "state had to react according to relevant laws and not only to ban the rally, but to arrest people who are propagating racial and ethnic hatred."

"Unfortunately such extremism is already a part of Serbia's political climate," she said.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Well, they DO say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery....

And from the "What a Coinkeedink!" department: On Friday, September 14, I made this post. On Sunday, September 16, La Julia made this one. Couldn't just be any sort of a connection there, could there? Nahhhh....

"Party on, Yllber!" "Party on, Gjyner!"

Well, I don't know if any of the guys in these photos are actually named "Yllber" or "Gjyner", but those were the Albanian names that came off the top of my head that sounded closest to "Wayne" and "Garth". In any case, these shots from a Prishtina night club are more evidence that I don't think we'll be seeing a Taliban-style government in Kosova any time in the near future, y'know what I mean?

H/T to jamsjam from the albanian.com web boards on where to find the photos. :) All photos taken from galeriashqiptare.net

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nuts to holy war-Let's PARTY!

Y'know, it never fails to amaze me....another of the "Haters" big time things to harp on is this supposed inherent inclination (naturally never adequately demonstrated-except in their own eyes) towards Fundamentalist Islam/Islamism/Islamofascism that Albanians allegedly have. I wonder, then, what they'd make of this "little" billboard from downtown Prishtina (it's for a very popular local pilsner called "Peja")? Not exactly what we'll be seeing in downtown Riyadh or Islamabad any time soon, I think....





Saturday, September 15, 2007

The truth, the half-truth, and none of the truth, part II

The lovely little post La Julia included the "freeper" post from 2000 in is all chock full of "sins of omission" (not to mention sins of distortion, sins of non-sequiter, etc, etc....). Here I'll take apart another of them.

She starts out the post by quoting conservative historian Victor Davis Hanson, in another futile attempt to equate with Anti-Semitism those who don't think Serbia and the Serbian National(Social)ists should have a free pass to do anything they want and have it be OK, by means of a wholly artificial (to say nothing of never truly explained) linking of the Serbian people with the Jewish people (a topic itself I plan to tackle here at a later date), hence making the fallacious equation that, for all intents and purposes, "Serbs=Jews".

She then latches on to a fleeting reference to British MP Claire Short and runs with it, next featuring an excerpt (with link) to the autobiography of Gen. Sir Michael Jackson, currently being run in the UK paper Daily Telegraph. Here's the part of her post "relevant" to that:


Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development, arrived in Skopje on Easter Sunday. She successfully bullied the Macedonians into allowing the refugees to leave no-man’s-land and to be dispersed into camps. Less helpfully, she tried to bully me, breathing fire about the need to “defeat Serb aggression” and accusing me of being “weak-willed” in not wanting to march straight into Kosovo. I countered that we had no authority to do any such thing…


Now, let's follow the link La Julia convieniently provided, and see what really happened:

Gen Sir Mike Jackson: Crossing Clare Short

Last Updated: 2:04am BST 04/09/2007

The Kosovo crisis was of intense interest to the world's media, attracting hundreds of journalists to Skopje. During the bombing campaign, as thousands of refugees streamed out of the province, our headquarters received innumerable visits from VIPs, many of whom were nothing more than a nuisance, and some of whom appeared to be seeking photo-opportunities. I became irritated with the constant refrain: "I'm here to help."

After hearing this for the umpteenth time, I handed one of the worthies a spade. "Take this up to the camps," I said, "and start digging latrines."

Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development, arrived in Skopje on Easter Sunday. She successfully bullied the Macedonians into allowing the refugees to leave no-man's-land and to be dispersed into camps. Less helpfully, she tried to bully me, breathing fire about the need to "defeat Serb aggression" and accusing me of being "weak-willed" in not wanting to march straight into Kosovo.

I countered that we had no authority to do any such thing, and when she sniffed, I suggested that we withdraw to my office for a private chat. When we were alone I didn't mince my words. I explained to her the facts of life - that I had at that time approximately 8,000 soldiers under my command to oppose a Serb army more than 20 times that number; moreover, we had only 20 or so tanks, a mere 380 fewer than the Serbs. "I'm too old for a heroic but futile gesture," I told her.

She calmed down after that. I offered her a whisky, and we parted on good terms. My staff, who had earlier heard raised voices coming from my office, were surprised to see her come out grinning.


*************************************

OK, now one might feel that Gen. Sir Mike should have still gone in anyway, but I'm willing to grant that at least he did have a rational reason on that occasion for not going after the Serbs with what he had at the time (unlike the famous Prishtina airport incident, where I would say he showed a decided lack of "backbone" compared to Gen. Clark). But of course, La Julia doesn't bother to include the rest of the article, which points out that Ms. Short did not know the realities of the situation, and quickly backed off when she understood that a direct assault on Serb forces who outnumber you 20 to 1 might not be the most sensible idea at the time. And by omitting the end of the article, you also don't discover that Gen. Sir Mike isn't saying he doesn't have the authority based on some sort of "moral" or "legal" grounds, but rather that as a CO, he'd be making a big mistake to send troops under his command after the Serbian forces at that point. Again, one may either agree or disagree, but the fact remains, that is why he opted not to go in, NOT because of the reason La Julia insinuates. Also, in omitting the fact that Ms. Short backed off of Jackson when she found out the specific reason he did not want to go in, she naturally makes Short out to be some sort of rabid nutcase soley obsessed with stopping the Serbian forces-ostensibly because of some unreasoning hatred of Serbs-and not caring about the legality of such an act, which is clearly not the case according to the article. What the article does make clear is that she wanted the Serb forces stopped, naturally, but not at the cost of a futile skirmish. But then, that's just one more instance of the "Haters" leaving out "inconvienient" little details-after all, can't let facts get in the way of "The Truth", right?

Friday, September 14, 2007

More proof that ALL Albanians are Mafiosi, yupyupyup....

It seems that one thing the "Haters" looooove to harp on all the time is the so called "Albanska Mafia" (all the while, of course, either ignoring or implicitly denying the existence of the "Srpska Mafia"....). As I stated in an earlier post here, I do not try to deny that there are Albanians involved in organised crime, but that's for the simple reason that there are "bad apples" among ALL people, and that said form of social blight exists among all peoples as well. But of course, the Haters also love to imply that ALL Albanians, simply by dint of being Albanian, are either a priori members of such an organisation, or rabidly support it at least. Giving the lie to that assertion (though I'm sure our little "friends" will all claim it to be a publicity stunt to sucker the west further down the "rruga e zimitieve" by making them think that the Albanians of Kosova are on the the side of right, good, law, order, democracy, etc., despite the fact that it got almost no coverage outside of Kosova) is this article, with pics, on an Anti-Organised Crime demonstration in Prishtina on September 4 of this year.

http://www.birn.eu.com/en/102/15/4054/

H/T to Prishtine: Independence and Kanun

Thousands Join Pristina Protest Over Policeman’s Murder

04 09 2007 Pristina _ About 3,000 people joined a protest in Pristina against organised crime in Kosovo on Tuesday, expressing revulsion over the killing of Triumf Rizaj, a police officer shot dead on August 30.

Thousands Join Pristina Protest Over Policeman’s Murder
Photo by Sokol Ferizi
The march started from the crime scene where the 28-year-old elite officer was shot dead and where many people left flowers and wreaths.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Agim Ceku, joined the protest together with the interior minister, Blerim Kuqi, the head of the parliamentary commission for security, Naim Maloku, Fatmir Limaj, vice-president of Kosovo’s Democratic Party, PDK, Behgjet Pacolli a Kosovo businessman who recently formed a political party and other public personalities, officials and artists.

Many stores closed in the city as the march passed while many people stood by and observed. A Kosovo Police Service, KPS, unit saluted a large portrait of Riza. He was the third policeman to be killed this year in Kosovo.

According to the organisers, the protest “was organised at the spontaneous request of citizens, incensed at the cowardly murder of one of their most professional protectors of law and order and a pillar of our community”.

Riza was a member of a unit of the KPS in charge of security for VIPs. Although the investigation is ongoing, police have already arrested several people over the case, of whom at least five are being detained for 30 days.

Police sources said Riza had fallen into conflict with the notorious Enver Sekiraqa gang, named after a controversial businessman. In September 2000 Sekiraqa was arrested as a suspect for the assassination of a Pristina municipal official, Rexhep Luci, but was released for lack of evidence.

Riza and Sekiraqa were involved in at least two incidents in the past, one including firearms, according to police sources. It is said that the conflict between them became especially inflamed when Riza started dating Adelina Ismajli, a famous pop-star previously seen with Sekiraqa.

Most of the men arrested in connection to the case were detained in the Sekiraqa café in Pristina that allegedly belongs to the gang. However, Veton Elshani, the KPS spokesperson, noted that Sekiraqa had not been named as a suspect in this case and there was no arrest warrant out for him.

However, police sources have told Balkan Insight that Sekiraqa`s whereabouts are unknown and that he is sought for questioning over Riza`s murder. Balkan Insight has not been able to reach Sekiraqa for comment.


Further pics of the demonstration from Prishtine: Independence and Kanun


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The truth, the half-truth, and none of the truth, part I

One of the favorite little "tricks" of the "Haters" is to take and post a factual (or partially factual) article quote or excerpt, leave out certain "inconvienent" little details, frame it with their own viewpoint, or some sort of emotionally charged (and generally both unsupported and unsupportable) statements in order to prejudice the reader, and present it to the reader as an accurate depiction of the situation being discussed.

As a part of one of her recent posts, La Julia quotes and links to a post that has nothing what soever to do with the bulk of the rest of her post, one from that ever-reliable bastion of objectivity, Free Republic (which should make it a priori suspect right then and there). The seven and a half year old post, made by a "freeper" who goes by the name "vooch", is of an article written by one Max Sinclair, and supposedly having it's origins at Columbia University. Now googling "Max Sinclair Columbia University" brings up nothing....save for links to that same article on sites like Free Republic and kosovo.net. But googling "Max Sinclair Kosovo" brings up a bunch of links to another of our old "friends", this time from the "left": Emperors-Clothes.com. Seems Max (whom I've as of this writing been able to find absolutely nothing about other than that) contributed about a half dozen plus articles to TENC (another reliable, objective source for analysis of Balkan activities, for sure!) back in the late 90's-early 2000's.

In any case, the Sinclair "article", a barely coherent piece of nonsense entitled "WAR CRIMES OF THE KLA AGAINST ALBANIAN LOYALISTS" (another google search that gave me no direct hits), evidently tries to accuse the KLA of engineering the whole Kosovar Albanian refugee crisis, in large part by ordering people out of their homes en masse at various and sundry times. Here's one particularly choice piece from that "article":

The tide of KLA induced refugees grew until it reached 160,000 as described by Lirak Qelaj. Qelaj acted in part as an information officer for Commander Remi and one of his jobs was to film the plight of displaced Albanian civilians with a video camera. Qelaj “disclosed that it was KLA advice, rather than Serbian deportations, which led some of the hundreds of thousands of Albanians to leave Kosovo” as reported by Jonathan Steele of the Guardian on June 30th.

Now contrast that with what the original whole of the article that cobbled "passage" came from from said:

"He also disclosed that it was KLA advice, rather than Serbian deportations,
which led some of the hundreds of thousands of Albanians to leave Kosovo.

"Nato bombing did eventually stop the Serbs moving their tanks around, but
it didn't happen at the beginning. The Serbs used 30 tanks in an operation
against us at Bradesh about a week after the bombing started. At that time
Nato was concentrating on hitting buildings and other fixed structures."

He denied that there was any direct air support for the KLA from Nato. The
Bradesh attack forced the ethnic Albanian force further back into the
hills. They had already had to give ground on the first day of the air
campaign.

Mr Qelaj was based in the Lap region to the north of Podujevo, close to the
province's border with the rest of Serbia. Straddling the main road between
Kosovo and Serbia, it was heavily guarded by the Yugoslav army. He acted in
part as an information officer and one of his jobs was to film the plight
of displaced Albanian civilians with a video camera.

In one episode, around 160,000 displaced people were stranded near the
village of Kolic on the east side of the Pristina-Podujevo road. Once the
KLA had no more flour to give them "we urged the people to go on to the
main road and start walking to Pristina. We thought that if the Serbs had
lots of witnesses, it would be safer for the people."

The Serbs kept these ethnic Albanians camped on the road for two days, he
said: "Men were separated from women and we later found 80 bodies near
Kolic." Where were these bodies now? "We buried them in the mountains."

Later, about a month into the air raids, when the Serbs launched a new
offensive from Bajgora in the north of the Lap region, the KLA urged
another crowd hiding in the woods and numbering almost 60,000 to leave for
Macedonia and Albania. "We could no longer protect them," he said. "We had
to withdraw ourselves."

Interesting how Sinclair left out a few "little" details, and rearranged others....like the reason that the KLA advised (not ordered) people to get out of a given area was because they could not guarantee that they would be able to protect Albanians living there from Serb troops and paramilitaries. Or that it was Serb forces, not the KLA, that forced the 160,000 refugees Sinclair mentions above to camp out in the open and in the cold, on a road, for two days, and that they KLA urged them to move towards Prishtina because they had run out of food to give them, and felt they stood a better chance against the Serbian forces if they were in the open, in a large group where the Serbs knew there would be witnesses should they try anything. Of course, Sinclair saw it a bit differently:

In Remi’s zone of operations alone, the KLA expelled 220,000 Albanians. This is keeping with the pattern Remi established prior to the bombing. Albanians were only worthy of decent treatment if they were actively supporting the KLA. Those who stood on the sidelines were to be used for propaganda purposes or worse.

One need only read in context the original piece to see both how ridiculous and how crass (both hallmarks of the Serb National(Social)ists and their supporters) this statement is. Urging people to abandon an area where they are in danger and to move to safe (or at least safer) territory is seen as "expelling" them (there is no objective evidence that Remi did any such thing before the bombing started, either), rather than a sensible attempt to save lives. Documenting on film the resulting migrations necessitated by the threat of assaults on villages by Serb forces is labeled as using people "for propaganda purposes or worse", rather than to document the results of the Serbian government's attempts to ethnically cleanse Kosova of it's Albanians. Further, there is nothing to suggest that the people in question were against the KLA or did not "actively support" them, and most certianly nothing to suggest that they were in any way loyal to Belgrade. And as civilians, well, usually by definition, "standing on the sidelines" in a conflict is what civilians do. But none of these facts matters to people like Sinclair, or the "freepers"....or La Julia, for that matter.



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

YEE-HAH! WE HITS DA BIG TIME!!

Well, guess what, folks? LA JULIA NOW KNOWS WE'RE OUT THERE!! WOO-HOO!! :D
(But Julie, sweetiepie, honeybunches of oats....you goofed again, dear! I never accused you of mistaking KosovA for a part of Croatia-I accused you of thinking that Croatia had been absorbed into the so-called "Greater Albania"-which of course, BTW, doesn't exist. And as far as the corrections go....no need to thank me, the pleasure's all mine-trust me on that one! ;) )

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Death comes for it's namesake

A follow up piece six years later in the Chicago tribune about Minic receiving his just desserts.








A dying and AIDS ravaged Minic in 2005.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0510230495oct23,1,618
1034.story?page=1&cset=true&ctrack=1

Fleeing past, meeting his death

Wanted for Kosovo war crimes, he ended up in Argentina. But he couldn't
escape AIDS and cancer.

By Colin McMahon
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published October 23, 2005

MENDOZA, Argentina -- Nebojsa Minic looked pitiable on his deathbed,
shriveled beyond recognition, eyes rolling in his head, a misshapen
mouth struggling to utter the simplest of words.
But pity often eludes those who fail to show it themselves. And
according to the survivors of ethnic Albanian families massacred by Serb
militias in Kosovo, Minic never showed humanity, much less pity. If
Nebojsa Minic, commander of the notorious Lightning paramilitary group,
was rotting on the other side of the world, he would get no sympathy
from the Albanian town of Pec.
"Home," Minic said repeatedly in a tense interview Tuesday night, 36
hours before he died. It was one of the few words besides "yes" or "no"
that Minic could say clearly, and he kept coming back to it like a
prayer.
But it was not Pec he meant by home; it was his apartment in the
western Argentine city of Mendoza.
Kosovo? "No," Minic said. He did not want to go there.
Minic's run from his blood-soaked past began in 1999 after the men
of Lightning were accused of dozens of rapes, robberies and murders of
Albanian Muslims in Kosovo. It ended Thursday in a cramped public
hospital in Mendoza, on a plastic mattress with soiled linen, when
Minic, 41, stopped breathing and freed the hand of his devoted Argentine
girlfriend.
In between those bookends of death, Minic stumbled through a
half-dozen countries, through moneymaking schemes that sometimes worked
and sometimes didn't. The odyssey bought Minic time, but it never
brought him peace.
Minic could not escape a Mendoza state police investigator. He could
not escape a jilted lover who gave Minic a roof, food and money only to
be repaid with intimidation. He could not escape cancer and AIDS.
Nor could he escape the horrors of Kosovo or the nickname he adopted
there: "Mrtvi," the Serbian word for "dead."
"He seems tremendously sad," Minic's attorney, Alejandra Ruiz, said
the day before he died. "He cannot imagine a life without war. . . . The
thing is: He could have led a normal life here, and now he's dying."
Minic's "normal" life in Mendoza was a mess of irregularities. He
told people he was rich but often had no pocket money. He opened a
pizzeria called La Bomba without a proper permit. He came into Argentina
on a false passport, was arrested for using a second false passport and
then freed and allowed to stay in Mendoza using his first false
identity.
Friends, lovers and even Minic's guards at the hospital called him
"Vlada" until the day he died. But the real Vlada Radivojevic, whose
identity Minic had assumed, was somewhere in Europe, according to a
police trace of passport and immigration records.
"I was shocked when I saw the files," said Omar Perez Botti,
Mendoza's top police investigator when authorities were tipped about
Minic's true identity in March 2005.

Ghastly crimes

The crimes Minic was accused of ordering or participating in were
ghastly. Munja, or Lightning, was a loose grouping of police, thugs and
self-proclaimed Serb patriots who engaged in violent "ethnic cleansing"
of Albanians from Pec and other Kosovo communities.
Testimony collected by human-rights activists and Serbian
prosecutors accuses Minic of joining a Serb paramilitary raid on the
village of Cuska in which 41 ethnic Albanians were executed. Minic was
also accused of ordering the rape, torture and murder of members of the
Bala family in Pec.
In the interview Tuesday night, Minic responded to a series of
questions with "yes" or "no." Occasionally he forced out a clear word or
a phrase, fighting the paralysis that had spread through most of his
body. His lack of teeth made it worse--Minic had yanked several out
himself when they rotted in his mouth.
Minic's girlfriend, Anahi Escobedo, manipulated Minic's mouth to
help him articulate. She stroked his head, which lacked the long black
and gray hair that had given him a bohemian look a few months before,
and held cigarettes up to his mouth.
Minic held the gaze of his questioners, and there was plenty of fire
left in the blue eyes that had so unnerved and intimidated Lightning's
victims. He acknowledged knowing other members of Lightning. But he
reacted with disdain when confronted with the accusations and when told
that many people in Kosovo hated him.
"No," Minic said, giving his head a slight shake, he did not kill
innocent civilians.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0510230495oct23,1,618
1034.story?page=2&ctrack=1&cset=true

"No," the war was not about religion.
"Yes," God still loved him.
"No," he did not regret anything he had done.
"I am not a criminal," Minic said. "I am a soldier."
Minic's definition of soldier is as loose as his definition of war.
Anything went in war, he told friends, lovers and people he merely ran
into through his travels. There could be no such thing as a war crime,
Minic said. And if you were not there, if you did not see the fallen
comrades and the civilians tortured by the other side, then you cannot
know what war is, nor can you judge.
"He would say he was the kind of person who leads," said Iris
Palomares, a 52-year-old science professor in Mendoza who thought that
she and Minic were in love but now believes he was just using her.
"He said, `Some people could say I was a criminal, but others would
say I was a leader who defended my country.'"
Palomares and others said Minic spent hours talking about his life,
especially about the Kosovo war. At times he would say he was a "very
bad person."
Then one night, during a typical conversation in the kitchen, Minic
told Palomares and her son that he was on the Internet. He spoke his
real name, even wrote it down, and suggested she look for him on the
Web. She and her son tried, she said, with Minic by their side. But
maybe because the connection was poor, nothing came up. Minic appeared
surprised.
"I never have understood why he told me that story. He did not tell
me the details. He just gave me the name and told me it was a nom de
guerre," Palomares said. "Maybe he wanted me to turn him in."
Whatever Minic's motive, writing down his real name led to his
arrest.
After Minic and Palomares had a falling out, things turned ugly.
There were disputes over money, with Palomares estimating she loaned
Minic thousands of dollars to get travel documents and start his
business ventures. Minic accused Palomares of stalking him. He even went
to the police for a restraining order.
Then one day, angry and suspicious, Palomares found the name
scribbled among some papers. She went to an Internet cafe and ran a full
search. The screen filled with hit after hit.
"I wanted to die," she said, futilely trying to hold back tears
during a 90-minute interview. "That I had a person like this with such a
past in my house with my children.
"He was always making you feel sorry for him and making you help
him," Palomares said. "I don't understand how I as a grown woman did not
see this."
Palomares went to the local police, and eventually her information
reached Perez Botti. In mid-May, Minic was arrested while being treated
at the hospital for lung cancer and AIDS.
Within weeks, Serbian war crimes prosecutors would request Minic's
extradition. That process was working its way through Argentine courts
when Minic died.

`Not the same man'

On the morning of Minic's death, Escobedo stood by the corpse and idly
rubbed Minic's ankle and calf. She had dressed him in jeans and a light
blue shirt. She had closed his eyes. And she had wrapped a bandage
around his head to keep his jaw closed. It gave Nebojsa Minic a
cartoonish look, like a corpse with a toothache.
"This man called Nebojsa, this is not the same man I know as Vlada,"
Escobedo said.
And she was right. The man lying there was a picture of impotence
and frailty. Minic had decayed from the inside out, and whatever fear,
rage and hate he had been hauling around were no longer dangerous or
frightening or volatile. It was still there, spent, stuck inside him.

cmcmahon@tribune.com

Copyright C 2005, Chicago Tribune

My name is "Death"

I posted this originally on my old blog, but I think it deserves republishing here. Its a piece from '99 about a Serb paramiliary soldier named Nebojsa Minic, but who was better known by his "nom de guerre", "Mrtvi" (Death). I will also post a follow up article that shows that there is justice in the world, even if it doesn't always come from a court of law.



Witnesses identified the man on the right as Nebojsa Minic, known as "Mrtvi" ("Death"). He is implicated in the extortion and killing of six family members in Pec on June 12. On the left is Vidomir Salipur, a Pec policeman and alleged head of the Munja gang, who was killed by the KLA on April 8, 1999. The date and location of the photograph are unknown. © Human Rights Watch

From Daily Telegraph (UK), Sunday 29 June, 1999


My name is Death...'
By Philip Sherwell in Pec


THE Serbian retreat from Pec was already underway,
Italian peacekeeping troops were en route from
Macedonia. At last, the Bala family thought, their
ordeal was finally over. They had survived 80 days
behind the shutters of their home while Slobodan
Milosevic's forces terrorised the city known as the
"Serb Jerusalem".

They were terribly wrong. For Isa Bala, the true horror
began only after the Yugoslav president agreed to pull
his men out of Kosovo. Last Saturday night his home
became a bloodbath: seven members of his family were
shot within its walls.

A band of Serbian paramilitaries led by a local thug who
revelled in the nickname "Mrtvi" (Death) went on a final
rampage of killing, raping and looting in Pec just hours
before the arrival of Nato troops. Nebojsa Minic, the
man who calls himself Mrtvi, is a heavily-tattooed,
shaven-headed man with a long criminal record. Before
the war, he ran a local band - the Black-Hand Gang -
that specialised in protection rackets in Pec.

The city has a special place in Serbian culture: its
monasteries are the cradle of the Serbian Orthodox
Church. For nationalist fanatics such as Minic, that was
the excuse to pursue a warped vision of ethnic purity
with a vengeance extreme even by the recent standards of
Kosovo.

Before the war, there were 80,000 Albanians in the city.
The few hundred Albanians who now remain cannot explain
why they were not also forced to flee. The Balas were
among those left behind.

Isa and his brother Musa ran a butcher's shop together
before the conflict. They stayed in Pec with their wives
and children because their crippled mother was too sick
to join the exodus. They had prayed that they would
survive unscathed and, as they prepared for bed last
Saturday, they were convinced their prayers had been
answered. Then, at 9pm, came a barrage of thuds at the
door.

Isa - a gentle bear of a man aged 40 - describes how
three men wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying
automatic weapons forced their way into his house. They
rounded up his wife Halise, 38; three of their sons,
aged six, 11 and 12; Musa, 31; his wife Violloca, 28,
and their three young children. Isa's invalid mother was
in another room and, unknown to the intruders, his other
son, eight-year-old Veton, was cowering behind a couch.

First, the men demanded money and Isa gave them 300
Deutschmarks (about £100). Then they led away Violloca
to an empty room for a few minutes. When she came back,
she was adjusting her clothes but insisted they had only
seized her jewellery. Isa's mother, however, was lying
in the room next door and knew the truth: Violloca had
[ ]been raped.

Finally two of the paramilitaries marched Isa and Musa
off to the house of an elderly neighbour where their
leader was waiting. There, Minic told Isa: "We are the
men with no names. I am 'Mrtvi'. We're probably going to
die ourselves, but first we are going to have our fun."

Minic told Isa he would kill his family unless he handed
over more money. Isa agreed and was taken back to his
house. His brother Musa was kept behind (his body was
found three days ago). Isa handed over his life savings
of 5,000DM (£1,700), but even that was not enough. The
gang sprayed the room with gunfire, killing Isa's three
sons, his sister-in-law Violloca and a niece. Another
niece later bled to death.

Isa himself jumped to safety from a first floor balcony
clutching his four-year-old nephew Roni, while the
gunmen left Halise for dead after shooting her three
times. Somehow, she survived and is recovering in
hospital.

Last week the photographer Julian Simmonds and I became
the first British journalists to witness the devastating
impact of ethnic cleansing in the Pec area after walking
with the KLA for four days to the city through ravaged
western Kosovo. Our route had taken us past a string of
flattened villages. Untended cherry orchards stood next
to charred homes; the sweet smell of lavender would be
abruptly overwhelmed by the stench of rotting carcasses
as we passed horses and cows shot by Serbs.

In the village of Little Jablanica, there was just one
house intact in a village of 200 buildings. Even the
school had been burned down. In neighbouring Kaliqan, an
old Albanian man was living among the rubble. "I don't
have anything, I don't know anything," he repeated over
and over.

And at nearby Rohut, seven miles east of Pec, there was
another chilling reminder of the Serbian killing spree:
the remains of 10 Albanian victims of death squads. Two
of the corpses were identified by locals as cousins
Beqir and Dem Osmanaj. They had been garrotted with car
jump leads: the wires were still wrapped around the neck
of Beqir.

The others were unidentifiable - they were little more
than incinerated skeletons recovered from makeshift
pyres on top of haystacks around the village. But from
the size of the bones, at least two of them appeared to
be children aged under 10. It was just one more horrific
discovery as the fields of Kosovo yielded their secrets:
proof of the bloodlust that gripped Milosevic's forces
as they swept through the villages around the Serb
Jerusalem.

Who are our REAL enemies?-A "blogatorial"

This is a topic I had decided I wanted to write about from the moment I started this blog. I knew it wouldn't be easy or necessarily pleasant to write about, but I did feel it needed to be said. Hence, in this first "blogatorial" of mine, I will be talking about who I believe the real enemies of the Albanian people are, and what can be done about them.

Who or what, then, is the "real" enemy (or enemies) of the Albanian community and it's friends and supporters? Contrary to popular belief, it is not some nebulous, amorphous entity called "The Serbs" or "The Greeks". I believe there are plenty of both Serbs and Greeks (though I'm not sure at this point I can honestly say in either case "a majority") who do not harbor National(Social)ist sentiments; who have no desire to dismember and annex Albania proper, who have no problem seeing Albanians as human beings no different from themselves, with a valid history and culture that should be respected. They could care less about "Kosovo and Metohija" or "Vorio Epirus". It is not relevant to them, nor is it a part of where they derive their ethnic identity from. They, like most of us, just want to get through their day, take care of their families, and be left unmolested. So to say "The Serbs" or "The Greeks" (or anyone else for that matter) are our enemy is a red herring, and if we do it, it makes us no better than the Serbian and/or Greek National(Social)ists when they demonise "The Albanians" (as they constantly do, of course).

No, I believe that we have two primary enemies. The first is Nationalism (or as I prefer to refer to it as, National(Social)ism). Now Nationalism is not Patriotism (though it could be said to be a perversion of it), and though the line between the two sentiments is often fine, it is there, and it is dangerous, in my opinion, to confuse the two. So what is nationalism? Well, to put it in somewhat colloquial, slightly oversimplified (and perhaps slightly vulgar) terms, if Patriotism is "My country is great!", then Nationalism is "My country is great, and yours sucks"! In other words, true patriotism need not rely on the denegration of any other people or state in order to find a source for national pride. Nationalism, at least by the way I define it, cannot help but demonise "the other" in order to gain at least a part of a sense of it's national pride. It is nearly always destructive towards that stated "other", and eventually is always destructive towards its own self.

Now as to Nationalism, I believe it can reasonably divided into two not-necessarily-mutually-exclusive types: Expansionist and Isolationist. The terms are fairly self-explanitory, but I will expand briefly upon them. Expansionist Nationalism (sometimes refered to as "Imperialism") seeks to expand (and/or in some cases regain if once held but later lost) the country in question's territory. Think Nazi Germany with it's "Liebensraum" policy, or Stalin's expansionism, or closer to home, the "Veljika Srbija" (Greater Serbia) or "Vorio Epirus" (Northern Epirus) policies of those supporting Serbian or Greek National(Social)ism. The nearly-always inevitable results of this form of Nationalism are well documented to anyone who knows the slightest bit of world history. And of course, when it is carried to it's "logical" conclusion, Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing are often the result, as again can be seen from even the most cursory study of history.

Isolationist Nationalism, on the other hand, while still demonising "the other", takes a "circle the wagons" mentality towards other peoples and other cultures, seeing isolation (often to a ridiculous degree) as being the only way to defend said people's culture and way of life from the "barbarians at the gates". Albania under Enver Hoxha, (or to a lesser degree Castro's Cuba) of course, comes to mind as a textbook example of this kind of Nationalism. (Of course, as I alluded to before, the two basic types of Nationalism, much as might seem otherwise, are not mutually exclusive, as can be witnessed by North Korea or Iran.) Naturally, we have all seen for ourselves the results of such a form or Nationalism in Albania, and continue to see them today with North Korea.

So what is to be done about Nationalism? How then can we fight it, if it indeed is one of our "real" enemies? Well, the first thing, I believe, is being aware in the first place that it is one of our real enemies. That is to say that Nationalism (in this case Serbian and Greek Nationalism, and to a lesser degree any remaining remnants of our own) is in reality the enemy we fight, and not a people, a race, or a country. To see it as otherwise I believe is both unrealistic, and it also brings us down to the level of our enemies, in this case those who espouse the party lines of Serbian and Greek Nationalism (and the naiscent "neo-byzantine" movement as well) The second, as I just alluded to, is not to fall prey to it ourselves. Fortunately, Nationalism from what I have seen is rarely a part of the Albanian consciousness. But still, the poison of "Xhaxhi Enver" did manage to reach far and wide, far beyond the borders of the then Peoples Socialist Republic of Albania, even affecting those who claimed to hate him more than words could describe. We must work to eliminate the last vestiges of that falsely elitist and isolationist sentiment wherever we may find it. Albania, and the Albanian community, must find factual reasons to build links to the rest of the world, not distorted excuses to keep maintaining a Frostian "wall" between it and them. The third and final way to combat Nationalism, especially of the type pertaining to our specific struggle in this case, i.e. the right of Albanian peoples in the Balkans to live in freedom and without molestation, is to constantly shine the light of truth on it. We must at all times and at all places be willing to act like Dorothy Gale's dog Toto in the childrens classic book and movie The Wizard of Oz, and bravely expose "The Man Behind The Curtain" (i.e. "The Real Truth") that the Nationalists want those they wish to sway to "pay no attention to". We must reveal it for the ugly blight on humanity that it is, a denegrator both of those who it seeks to destroy (or shun at the very least), but most of all, a denegrator of the society that falls prey to it's seductions.

Now, earlier I did mention in my opinion that we have a second enemy besides Nationalism to combat. So who is that "second enemy"? Well, to borrow a certain phrase from a certain long-gone but fondly remembered American comic strip, "We have met the enemy, and he is us!" Yes folks, that's right: We are. It is not an easy thing to say, but it is a necessary thing to say, at least in my humble opinion. Or rather I should probably say it is our foibles, common to all humans and not unique to Albanians or anyone else, that are.

It is our hubris in this matter, which has led us to assume that just because Serbia capitulated to NATO 8 years ago, that means that Kosova independence (and just as importantly international recognition and national security) is a "done deal".

It is our laziness in this matter, (which honestly is quite understandable-who in their right mind likes the idea that any fight might be an "eternal" one?), which has led us to put our guard down, and allowed those on the side of Serbian National(Social)ism to gain ground via unrelenting propaganda, ground we foolishly believed was lost to them forever, much like the Hare in the Aesop story lost his race by being lazy and over-confident, hence allowing the Tortoise to eventually overtake him.

Lastly, it is our all-too-human desire for a return to "business as usual", which has allowed us to neglect the good relations we engendered during the NATO crisis with the general communities around us, and with other ethnic communities. I can not speak for other communities of the Albanian diaspora (though I get the impression it is much the same in many of them), but I know that where I live, the community managed to gain the goodwill of both the general community and some other ethnic communities, most notably the Hispanic and Jewish communities. Yet we have done next to nothing, not even in the light of 9/11 and the rise of Islamophobia (many commentators and pundits now often tying in Islamic Fundamentalism and the Albanian people, as if the two had anything at all to do with each other, outside of a few nutjobs), to maintain that "goodwill".

So what can be done about this? Well, firstly, we need to start bearing in mind that wise saying of Yogi Berra that I quoted in my very first post to this blog: "It ain't over until it's over". We have to stop assuming that Kosova is a "done deal". That doesn't mean that we should become "Chicken Little", and assume that the slightest setback to the process of independence puts said independence in grave jeopardy, but we must start facing the reality: That until Kosova actually is independent, we must be on our guard, not only for developing situations in the Balkans, but for the agitprop being produced by Serbian and Greek National(Social)ists that attempts to endanger our chances of one day (hopefully soon) seeing "Kosova e lirë".

Second, we must realise that, as Jefferson said, "The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance". That means exactly what it says. We cannot be "lazy" when it comes to Anti-Albanian propaganda, whether it be on the 'net, on TV, on Radio, in newspapers-anywhere. While we must certainly be discriminating as to what is worth giving answer to, we must also be prepared to give answer, and give one that is firm, truthful, and honest, to the "Haters" and their lies. We cannot hide any longer behind "Oh, he/she's only a Serb/Serbophile-nobody cares what he/she has to say." The honest evidence is that is not the case. And who can doubt that our hubris and laziness in hiding behind excuses like the aforementioned have at least in some small way helped our enemy to get their "message" across unhindered?

Third and lastly, we need to increase the visibility of the Albanian diaspora in the communities it exists in, and also build links with other ethnic communities, especially those who we have certain things in common with, such as cultural influences, values, experiences, etc. We should be forming Albanian-American societies in any communities where there are enough people to sustain them. And even if there aren't enough people to sustain such (and even if there are), we can still take part in things like the multi-cultural festivals many communities hold. We should also try to do public festivals as many other ethnic communities do, as well. These can go a long way to "demystifying" the Albanian people and their culture to the general American community, as well as building goodwill. Lastly, we should be extending the hand of friendship to other ethnic communities, rather than shunning and belitlling them.

Well, that's it. That's my thoughts on the subject of who our "real" enemies are. You may agree. You may disagree. You may be mad as hell with me for saying them out loud, in this public forum (though as the old saying goes, "If I offended you, maybe you needed to be offended"). If so, all I can say is "I am sorry-but I do not apologise". Because I would not have said them if I did not truly believe them, or if I did not truly think it important that they be said in the first place. Hopefully, they will engender something that I feel is long overdue in this community: Constructive discussion about issues in the Albanian community, both present and future, and how best to deal with them.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Debunking the Al-Qaeda in the Balkans myth

Hey there, all! Sorry I haven't posted anything new for a bit now, but as many of you know, this past Monday was a national holiday (Labor Day) here in the states. The extra day off is nice, of course, but to be honest, sometimes it's a bit hard to get one's "groove" back on a 4 day week (especially as one gets older!), odd as that may sound.

I do have some stuff I've been writing that's "in the hopper", but not quite ready for posting yet, so in the meantime, here's another great contribution by François to feast your eyes on....a review he sent me of a book debunking the "Al-Qaida is taking over the Balkans" crap that the Albanophobes (and even more the Bosnophobes) seem to delight in harping on over and over. It's not strictly Albanian-related (it appears mostly to deal with the Bosnian War), but it does look like a fascinating read!

*********************************************
http://zope06.v.servelocity.net/hjs/sections/greater_europe/document.2005-04-28.6595030101
Al-Qaida and the Balkans: Myths, Realities and Lessons
By Marko Attila Hoare, The Henry Jackson Society, 28th April 2005

Review of Evan Kohlmann (2004),
Al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network, Berg: Oxford and New York, 239 + xiv pp.


The so-called 'anti-war movement' against the intervention of the United States (US), the United Kingdom and their allies in Iraq has involved the forging of some peculiar new alliances, none of which is more incongruous than the alliance of radical Islamists, right-wing libertarians and radical leftists that makes up the movement's more extremist wing. One of the ironies of this is that the same left-wing and right-wing militants who are now marching alongside their Islamist comrades in a common jihad against the US-led coalition, frequently claim that it is hypocritical for the US to be waging war against Islamic terrorism given the US record in the Balkans: the US, they claim, supported Islamists in Bosnia and Kosovo against the Serbs. This, of course, begs the obvious response: if the US support for Islamists in Bosnia and Kosovo was objectionable, why are leading lights of the 'anti-war movement' themselves now supporting the Islamist 'resistance' in Iraq? Since the 'anti-war movement' is in reality an anti-American movement, it is hardly surprising that its celebrities support the right of Islamists to kill Americans, but object to their killing of Serbs who, in their eyes, were merely defending the principles of national sovereignty and/or revolutionary socialism from the evils of NATO, the US and the European Union. 'Anti-war' activists condemn the alleged US-Islamist alliance in the Balkans not because they fundamentally dislike Islamists, but because they fundamentally dislike the US (or, in the case of the right-wing libertarians among them, the US's support for democracy abroad).

Nevertheless, and however hypocritical they may be, the accusations of the 'anti-war' people need to be answered. So far as the Kosovo Albanians and the Kosovo Liberation Army are concerned, accusations of Islamism seem particularly farcical: the Albanians are the world's most moderate Muslims; their national movement was historically founded by Catholics; and they are among the US's staunchest allies in the world today. Kosovo Albanians actually demonstrated in favour of US intervention in Iraq, perceiving, as they did, Saddam Hussein to be a tyrant similar to Slobodan Milosevic. In Bosnia, however, it is true that several thousand mujahedin from the Middle East, some of whom had fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, did arrive to fight for the Muslims against Serb forces. The atrocities carried out by some of these mujahedin against Serb and Croat civilians have formed the basis for indictments by the Hague Tribunal for war-crimes against several senior Bosnian generals, including Rasim Delic, who commanded the Bosnian Army in the war years of 1993-95. The presence of these mujahedin formed a mainstay in Serb and Croat nationalist demonising of the Bosnian Muslims. Inevitably, after 11th September, various anti-Bosnian nuts such as Yossef Bodansky, Justin Raimondo and Srdja Trifkovic, have painted a lurid picture of the Bosnian regime of Alija Izetbegovic as a sort of European branch of Al-Qaida; the arrival of the mujahedin in Bosnia as part of a wider Islamist conspiracy coordinated by Izetbegovic and Osama bin Laden.

When I first came across Evan Kohlmann's provocatively titled book, I feared it would be more of the same sort of nonsense. In fact, it is as eloquent a refutation as one could hope to read of the idea that Izetbegovic's Bosnian Muslims were in any way ideological fellow travellers of Al-Qaida, or its partners in terrorist activity. Written by a genuine expert in the subject - Kohlmann is an International Terrorism Consultant - this is a lucid and informed account of the involvement of the mujahedin in Bosnia, one that lays the myths to rest. It is a story of radical Arab Muslim veterans of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan who seized upon the Bosnian war as another front in embattled Islam's struggle against its enemies. In turn, the desperate regime of Izetbegovic, abandoned by the West and in danger of military collapse, accepted help from this dubious source. The Islamic radical circles that mobilised and armed the mujahedin in Bosnia were far from the Blofeld-style monolithic terror-organisation of popular imagination in the West, but rather a network of like-minded spirits for which Al-Qaida itself provided an organising kernel. But Al-Qaida was merely one element working among a multitude of Islamic organisations involved in Bosnia, many of them charities with official backing from more moderate sections of Islamic and Middle Eastern opinion, and it is unclear whether there was any very precise boundary between who was linked to Al-Qaida and who was not.

The distinction appears to have mattered little, if at all, to the great majority of the mujahedin in Bosnia. Bin Laden himself had no direct involvement in mujahedin operations in Bosnia, and plays very much an off-stage role in these events. Although his close associates were directly involved, and although he apparently hoped to use the mujahedin presence in Bosnia to create a base for operations against the US and Europe, this was a case of a minority of extremists attempting to latch on to a much larger Islamic movement of support for the Bosnian Muslims - one that united different shades of liberal, conservative and radical Islamic opinion - in order to manipulate it for their own ends. Most mujahedin in Bosnia had no such complicated long-term ambitions, but were merely concerned with the immediate struggle to defend Muslims in Bosnia.

Ironically, in light of later 'anti-war' activists' accusations of US support for Al-Qaida in Bosnia, there was a wide perception among Islamic radicals at this time that the US was supporting the Serbs to exterminate the Muslims. In the words of one such radical at the time:

'Who is the one who is fighting the Muslims? And, who is the one who wants to destroy them? There are two main enemies. The enemy who is at the foremost [sic.] of the work against Islam are [sic.] America and the Allies. Who is assisting the Serbs? And who is providing them with weapons and food? Europe, and behind it is America' (p. 73).

The US, for its part, played no role whatsoever in arming or organising the mujahedin in Bosnia, and indeed looked with suspicion upon their presence there. This presence would not be tolerated once the US was in a position to end it. There is thus no parallel between the US attitude to the mujahedin in Bosnia, and its prior attitude to the mujahedin during the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
For those Islamists who hoped to turn Bosnia into a major base for operations against the rest of Europe, the experience rapidly proved disappointing. Bin Laden himself complained in a 1993 interview that although he had the same vision for Bosnia as he did previously for Afghanistan, the situation in the Balkans

'did not provide the same opportunities as Afghanistan. A small number of mujahedin have gone to fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina but the Croats won't allow the mujahedin in through Croatia as the Pakistanis did with Afghanistan' (p. 77).

Yet it was not only the problematic logistics that made Bosnia a poor base for a wider jihad. The connection with bin Laden and with wider terrorist plans is more interesting in hindsight, but at the time, the real dichotomy was between the foreign mujahedin, who formed an autonomous force on the ground in Central Bosnia, and the native Bosnian military. Here the relationship very quickly soured as the fundamentally opposed goals of the two groups quickly became clear. Stjepan Siber, deputy commander of the Bosnian army, said publicly in June 1993:

'It was a mistake to let [the Arab guerrillas] in here. No one asked them to come. They commit most of the atrocities and work against the interests of the Muslim people. They have been killing, looting and stealing. They are not under the control of the Bosnian army and they must go. We hope that in the next few days President Izetbegovic will order them out'

(p. 90). The recently indicted Rasim Delic condemned the mujahedin for

'perpetrating senseless massacres, like their enemies... they are kamikaze, desperate people' (p. 90).

On occasion, regular Bosnian Army troops were forced to use force to protect Croat civilians and churches in Central Bosnia from the mujahedin.

Some ordinary Bosnian Muslims were attracted by the mujahedin's bravery and prowess in battle and joined their ranks on that basis, but they made unwilling Islamic fundamentalists. And most Bosnian soldiers were disgusted by the mujahedin vision. According to the contemporary viewpoint of one Bosnian officer quoted here:

'[t]he idea that we are going to build a Muslim state here like Libya is ridiculous... I would fight against such a state' (p. 93). One local Muslim joked at the time that the Arabs 'ask us to pray five times a day, but we prefer to have five drinks a day'. (p. 93).

In Kohlmann's words: 'In spite of vigorous efforts to 'Islamicise' the nominally Muslim Bosnian populace, the locals could not be convinced to abandon pork, alcohol, or public displays or affection. Many Bosnian women persistently refused to wear the hijab or follow the other mandates for female behaviour prescribed by extreme fundamentalist Islam' (p. 115). With the signing of the Washington Agreement that ended the Muslim-Croat conflict in March 1994, the readiness of young Bosnians to join the mujahedin, and of the Bosnian authorities to tolerate them, receded. Kohlmann notes:

'In the hour of crisis, the Muslim fanatics had stepped forward with money and weapons when no one else would. With the sudden change in tempo of the Bosnian war, the bizarre and artificial Islamist phenomenon slowly began to fade back into the shadows' (pp. 115-116).

The Bosnian leadership was not yet able entirely to dispense with the mujahedin since the war with Karadzic's Serbs was continuing. But with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in November 1995, foreign mujahedin were required to leave the country. NATO forces then took effective action to close their bases and deport them. The mujahedin responded with petty acts of violence against representatives of the international community, yet were unable to offer serious resistance to their dispersing by Western forces, which occurred virtually without bloodshed. An American United Nations aid-worker was murdered by members of the mujahedin in November 1995, and the Bosnian Army apparently captured and killed those responsible. Yet such violence represented the mujahedin's anger at efforts to disperse them, rather than forming part of a wider terrorist operation against the West. Final success in dispersing the mujahedin was not achieved by NATO until after 11th September, due to the Bosnian authorities' reluctance wholly to turn against their former allies, some of whom had married Bosnian women and obtained Bosnian citizenship. Such was the extent of the alleged Bosnia-Al-Qaida connection. For all the grandiose plans of various Al-Qaida militants with regard to Bosnia, the radical Islamists were evicted from the country quietly and ignominiously, and Bosnia has yet to experience the kind of terrorist outrages to which New York, Madrid and Istanbul have fallen victim. As Kohlmann notes:

'when push came to shove, neither the Bosnian Muslim government nor its people stood up to defend the Arab radicals as the Taliban did in Afghanistan. Instead, in the wake of 11th September, the indigenous Bosnians changed paths dramatically and became a key ally in the war against terror' (p. 225).

The irony is that, for all the talk among some elements in the 'anti-war' movement of the US having masterminded the entry of Al-Qaida into Bosnia, the presence of the mujahedin there was actually evidence of the US's unwillingness to support the Bosnian struggle for survival. Kohlmann is highly critical of Izetbegovic's alliance with the mujahedin and his reluctance to take action against them after Dayton, but he ackowledges that Izetbegovic's hand was forced during the war and that the Bosnians may not have survived militarily without the mujahedin's assistance. It appears highly unlikely to the present author that the mujahedin actually made the difference between Bosnian survival and collapse, but this is a conclusion much easier to reach in hindsight than it would have been for Izetbegovic in the dark hours of the war.

Kohlmann is very clear about the responsibility of the West and of the lessons to be learned:

'When we leave smaller, embattled peoples to the whims of purely diabolical men - be it Slobodan Milosevic or Osama bin Laden - we permit the gravest of injustices. In the end, the bravery and goodwill of the Bosnian people may have been the most crucial factor responsible for the ultimate failure of the Arab-Afghan experiment in Bosnia. Despite terrible war and starvation, the Bosnians desperately clung to their individual identity and held out against Salafi and Wahhabi brainwashing' (p. 226).

Consequently:

'One can say conclusively that the attempt to create a local fundamentalist state in Bosnia (parallel to the development of the Taliban in Afghanistan) failed utterly... Even at his most radical, Alija Izetbegovic was far from a Mullah Omar or even a Radovan Karadzic' (p. 229).

Kohlmann concludes:

'Thus, the importance of Bosnia cannot be ascribed to the success of Arab-Afghans in local recruitment or in the establishment of an Islamic state. For Al-Qaida, the real value of Bosnia was as a step in the ladder towards Western Europe' (p. 230).

This excellent book is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the truth about an episode of the Bosnian war that is so frequently misrepresented by those with a political motive for doing so. The present author remains unconvinced by Kohlmann's insistence on the importance of Bosnia as a 'step in the ladder towards Western Europe' for Al-Qaida, given the apparent success which Islamist terrorists appear to have enjoyed in moving across European and American borders, in recruiting among the immigrant Muslim communities of Western Europe and in striking in various Western countries. Bosnia appears rather - from the perspective of this non-expert in international terrorism - to have been more of a detour and an irrelevance.
Yet the implications of Kohlmann's conclusion is unavoidable: when the West colludes in oppression and injustice toward Muslim peoples, be they Bosnians, Kosovars, Chechens, Palestinians, Kurds or Kashmiris, we drive into the arms of our enemies those who would rather be our allies.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

So Croatia is now a part of Albania, Julia?

In her latest Anti-Albanian screed, La Julia posts a story about Serb returnees being assaulted. Of course, if true, that is most regrettable, and the perpetrators should be punished to the full extent of the law. But the interesting this is that her post (actually three "news" items) is supposed to be about "Greater Albania". Yet the city where this took place is in CROATIA. In need of a wee remedial geography lesson, Julia? Or just showing how much your hatreds cloud your accuracy....

Lest we forget....

It's been more than 8 years now since the NATO action against rump Yugoslavia to stop the slaughter of a people who were guilty of only two things: Being different from those around them, and not being willing to lay down and let those around them wipe them off the face of the planet (and try to convince the world they were doing it a big favor on top of it). But in 8 years, memories start to falter, and what seemed crystal clear becomes hazy, and an easy target for those who would try to convince others that things happened differently than they actually did.
Thankfully, there are records, and there is evidence. This is some of it: The excellent American Radio Works documentary "The Promise of Justice". Read it. Listen to it. Tell others about it. And to our Serbian National(Social)ist "friends": Come on-try and debunk this. Show us how it's all a bunch of "Wag the Dog" crap made up out of whole cloth by the "MSM". Come on-I dare you.

Monday, September 3, 2007

More on Anti-Semitism in Serbia

From the esteemed Helsinki Committee For Human Rights, a long but well worth reading document on Anti-Semitism in Serbia, past and present. It can be downloaded here

Also, here is a great article on the results of a "round table discussion" the Committee had on the issue of Anti-Semitism in Serbia today, and especially how the Serbian "new right" ties in with it.
Read and be enlightened, so you won't be deceived!

http://www.helsinki.org.yu/focus_text.php?lang=en&idteks=1564

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THE NEW SERBIAN RIGHT AND ANTI-SEMITISM
- A SUMMARY REPORT -

12/20/2005

THE NEW SERBIAN RIGHT AND ANTI-SEMITISM
- A SUMMARY REPORT -


The round table titled “The New Serbian Rights and Anti-Semitism” was organized on November 2, 2005, in the Belgrade Media Center. This first in the series of activities under the project “Overcoming Anti-Semitism and Nationalistic Prejudice” – implemented with the assistance of the Council of Europe – provided the guidelines for further discussion of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance and hate speech in today’s Serbia.
Five keynote speakers addressed the panel assembling around forty participants. Sonja Biserko, chairperson of the Helsinki Committee, Aleksandar Lebl, journalist and president of the Commission for Monitoring Anti-Semitism (Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia-Montenegro), writer Mirko Djordjevic, journalist Teofil Pancic and writer Filip David tackled the topics such as “Contemporary Anti-Semitism in Serbia and Worldwide,” “The New Serbian Right,” “Pop Culture and the Issue of Diversity” and “Discrepancy Between Declaration and Practice: Serbian Authorities' Attitude Towards Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of National and Religious Intolerance.”
The round table concluded that anti-Semitism in Serbia should not be perceived as an isolated phenomenon but ascribed to the overall radicalization of Serbian politics and society. In this context, anti-Semitism and its manifestations perfectly fit in the predominant exclusionist politics and conservative thought that negate any dissimilarity be it ethnic, religious or other.
The persistence of anti-Semitism is thus even more dangerous as it goes for the small Jewish community of no great weight in Serbia’s finances or politics. Major promoters of such anti-Jewish climate are to be traced down in a number of formal groups ranging from those that follow in the footsteps of a part of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s tradition leaning on the teachings of recently sanctified Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic and his overt anti-Semitism, through those in the limelight of pop culture to today’s authorities unwilling to come to grips with growing intolerance.
Here are some excerpts from keynote addresses.

Sonja Biserko: ”Raising the questions of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance and discrimination goes in parallel with current international trends…A number of international summits/conferences discuss and define the frameworks for combating these phenomena. Their final documents detail such negative trends, including hate speech and hate crimes, and label them threats to democracy (tolerance) and the respect for human rights…If Serbia has an eye on getting integrated into European and global institutions, she must do by far more than merely adopting international political and legal guidelines. Serbia has to face up all her traditions, past experiences and today’s problems, if she want to be recognized as a democratic and tolerant society open to diversity…Thus, the main objective of this project is to sensitize both the civil sector, the media and NGO coalitions to shower public opinion with factual information about these unacceptable trends, and the authorities to pursue proactive politics in combating racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Aleksandar Lebl: “…Recent years were marked by the revival of anti-Semitism worldwide – in developed Western democracies, societies in transition and underdeveloped countries, not to mention the Islamic world. Once again, anti-Semitism is “in” in intellectual circles in many countries. It is spread by the media, books, public lectures, the Internet. Sometimes it is expressed in roundabout ways, sometimes openly, but is, as a rule, camouflaged as anti-Zionism and anti-Israelitic stances…Claims that Jewish conspiracies are aimed at dominating the word have practically never been crossed out…The world has become aware of this threatening revival…Many countries’ legislations provide that anti-Semitism and glorification of Nazi leaders and symbols are criminal offences…We are witnesses to the growing anti-Semitism in Serbia.”

Mirko Djordjevic: “…The phrase “the new Serbian right” is not in itself too complicated to be understandable. However, its origin remains unclear. In its current form, it has been present throughout the past fifteen years, ever since some ideological groups have stepped on the public scene. These groups have occupied the void left after the fall of Russian communism…We are talking here of young people who have been joining various organizations – Obraz and St. Justin the Philosopher, and, as of recently, Dveri – all of which belong to the extreme right. In the wider context, this is about a trend that relies on the most conservative thought…The program of Serbian “rationalists” sources from the detailed document articulated in April 2004 that provides – though in a somewhat simplified manner – what attitudes should mark the new Serbian right. The later postulates that “both leftist and rightist politics are evil” because they divide an inseparable “organism.” Their usage of the term “race” remains unclear, since, according to their discourse, it primarily refers to the ethnos-nation concept…In geopolitical terms, they perceive the state as the outcome of the unification of all ‘Serbian lands,’ including Montenegro and Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In such a “racial Serbian state,” there is no place for Jews, Roma, Albanians and Balias /Turks, i.e. Muslims/…”

Filip David: ”Speaking about anti-Semitism we can see some specifics. Jews in Serbia are not a national minority – the fact that in itself specifically mirrors anti-Semitism…Specifics of anti-Semitism is its continuous presence in publishing. There is even, so to speak, a distinct genre, the genre of the anti-Semitic literature. It encompasses publications that openly assault Jews on racial basis, and the “literature” focused on various conspiracies, histories of secret societies, and world rulers in the shadow…The main sources of anti-Semitism can be found in a plethora of anti-Semitic literature, actions taken by certain, though major dignitaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and in statements of politicians and outstanding figures blaming ‘the world conspiracy against Serbia’ for all…What worries the most is the absence of reactions to anti-Semitic incidents. The public opinion on these matters is non-existent…”